Why The Left Must Criticize Linda Sarsour

Why The Left Must Criticize Linda Sarsour

Recent statements by Sarsour have shown she shouldn't be hailed as a progressive hero.
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Linda Sarsour has become a popular name in progressive politics as of late, as she was one of the co-founders and organizers behind the Women's March, undoubtedly one of the most important protests in recent American memory. While this is a worthy cause to support, some of Sarsour's recent statements should cause us to step back before we idolize her as a progressive figure. She has taken inflammatory positions regarding critiques of Islam, as well as attacking journalists for pointing out offensive and inconsistent tweets. I'm not here to demonize her as a person or mis-characterize her views, but I do think fellow liberals need to let down their knee-jerk defense and evaluate her behavior rationally.

2017 has been a year of political ups, downs, conflicts, protests, and scandals. One of the most prominent moments occurred just after the inauguration of President Trump. The day after the inauguration, millions across the US took to the streets to protest the President’s remarks towards women as well as what they stated were anti-women policies; this mass gathering was organized as the Women’s March. The model of the Women’s March became the template upon which most of the future protests in the Trump era, like the travel ban protests and the Science March. One of the co-founders and organizers of this event was Linda Sarsour, and the ground-breaking protest propelled her onto the national stage.

She was quickly embraced by many figures on the left, including Bernie Sanders. She championed many anti-Trump causes while also speaking out on her most passionate issue, the Palestinian people. Many on the left regard her as a champion of feminism and progressive issues, but as with many other figures who have come to national prominence; being on the national stage comes with national scrutiny.

This all came to a head last week when the Women’s March Twitter account posted a tweet honoring the birthday of Assata Shakur. Shakur, for those who don’t know, was convicted in 1977 as an accomplice in the murder. of New Jersey State Patrol Officer Werner Foerster. Foester had pulled over Shakur, who was in the car with a few others, on the New Jersey Turnpike; this quickly ended in an exchange of gunfire where Foerster was killed. Shakur and the trooper accompanying Foerster were injured. New Jersey law stated that an accomplice to a murder can be tried and convicted with an equal charge and sentence to the actual killers themselves, and Shakur was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. In 1984, however, she escaped and fled to Cuba where she was given asylum. She remains on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Clearly the fact that the Women’s March account would choose to honor this person was shocking, and many people, including journalists like Jake Tapper and Joe Scarborough called the account out for it. Even people who ardently supported the Women’s March seemed dismayed that this movement would choose to honor a convicted cop-killer.

But the Women’s March account doubled-down and, while tepidly saying that they didn’t agree with her “tactics”, they went on to praise her for her anti-racism work, which is absurd; the reason people know her name is because of the crime she committed. Sarsour, on her personal account, went a step further and accused Jake Tapper of joining the alt-right in mocking her. Anyone who’s ever watched Tapper knows that this is a nonsensical accusation.

And this isn’t the first time she’s made inflammatory statements. In reference to Ayaan Hirsi Al (and Brigitte Gabriel), an ex-Muslim who grew up in Somalia and regularly speaks on the violent aspects of Islamic fundamentalism, Sarsour wished she could “take their vaginas away” (referring also to Brigitte Gabriel); which is a stunning thing to say given that Ali had suffered female genital mutilation in her home country.

While her opinions on Israel and the Palestinian conflict are controversial, I will leave those off since there are legitimate disagreements on both sides. But just by these statements alone, I believe fellow liberals should rethink their support for her or at least demand that she apologize for and retract her statements.

Look, we need figures in America who serve as positive symbols for Muslim-Americans, especially in light of some of President Trump's harsh policies. In fairness to Sarsour, she has certainly given a voice to many Muslims and other groups across America, thanks to the Women's March. But blindly defending her comments as a knee-jerk reaction against conservatives despite some of her statements is extremely damaging to the progressive cause. And given the dire straits we are in with the Trump administration, we absolutely cannot afford that.

Cover Image Credit: Glamour

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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.
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“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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The 2020 Race Is Feeling The Bern

Everything you need to know about Bernie Sanders entering the presidential race.

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This morning, February 19, 2019, Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders announced he is running for president once again.

Unlike his run in 2016, though, Sanders now joins a crowded field of progressive candidates, one of which is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In Sanders's own words, this campaign is "about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life". Sanders went on to say that this is a "pivotal and dangerous moment in American history," and "We are running against a President who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction".

In his interview with CBS, Sanders explained that it is "absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated", and described candidates whom he is running alongside as his "friends".

Regarding policy issues, his focus remains the same as in previous years, planning to focus largely on women's reproductive rights, lower prices for prescription drugs, and criminal justice reform.

Sanders is also widely recognized because of his goal of universal healthcare. His Medicare-for-all bill that was drafted in 2017 outlines the establishment of a "national health insurance program to provide comprehensive protection against the costs of health-care and health-related services". According to estimates, however, such a plan would increase federal spending by $2.5 trillion a year.

When it comes to education, Sanders plans to make preschool for all 4-year-olds free, aiming to fund this plan through tax increases on the wealthy as well as Wall Street transactions.

More widely acknowledged is his "College For All Act", which would provide $47 billion a year to states in order to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Additionally, the act would cut student loan interest rates nearly in half for undergrads.

In terms of social issues, Sanders is pro-choice when it comes to abortion rights and opposes policies which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, such as Trump's push to ban transgender people from the military.

The New York Times discusses the idea that the political field of the 2020 run might leave Sanders a "victim of his own success", in that the multitude of Democratic candidates are embracing policies which Sanders championed in the last race.

"Ironically, Bernie's agenda for working families will be the Democratic Party's message in 2020, but he may not be the one leading the parade," said talk show host Bill Press.

Moreover, victories by women, minorities, and first-time candidates in the 2018 midterm elections suggest that "fresh energy" is preferred by Democrats, which potentially poses a challenge for Sanders.

Conversely, though, Sanders is also starting off with certain advantages, such as a "massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined".

Donald Trump responded to Sanders's announcement by saying, "First of all I think he missed his time, but... I like Bernie. He sort of would agree on trade... the problem is he doesn't know what to do about it. But I wish Bernie well."

By and large, Sanders is another strong candidate, and it will be interesting to see if he can generate the same energy and support now that he did in 2016.

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